Alertness and relaxation drinks have soared to a global retail value of over US$500m in under five years, according to recent research.

A report from food and drink consultancy Zenith International, which focuses on the five key country opportunities of the US and Canada, Germany, the UK and Japan, estimates that sales volumes have trebled since 2007 to 133m litres in 2010, with the US becoming by far the largest national market. In less than five years, the alertness and relaxation category is estimated to have a retail value of $521m, the research estimates.

“Consumers are now looking for products to help them deal with pressure and to perform effectively without the use of stimulants”, said Zenith's market analyst, Cecilia Martinez. “Alertness drinks are designed to reduce stress and focus the mind. Relaxation drinks usually contain ingredients to assist relaxation and in some cases to aid sleep.”

The concept of alertness and relaxation drinks started in Japan in 2005 with a flurry of products enriched with gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This market has now matured, but it influenced an explosion of innovation in the US. In Europe, the market is just beginning to emerge, but it is hampered by a changing regulatory environment. “The full impact of imminent legislation is yet to be seen,” Zenith notes.

The Report on Alertness and Relaxation Drinks from Zenith also forecasts that alertness and relaxation drinks will see continuing annual growth of over 20% to 2013.